A SEX offender who stroked and touched children in a playground has been jailed after he twice breached an order which prevented him from having unsupervised contact with children.
Paul Hurworth (55), of Well Drive, Thrybergh, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two breaches of a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order which was imposed in 2015.
Ms Helen Chapman, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court on Wednesday, said Hurworth had been given the order when he was convicted of public nuisance, but did not have any further information about the offence.
Hurworth breached the order twice over two days from July 1 this year when he visited a children’s playground on Lindley Street, Rotherham.
Ms Chapman said: “He was seen at 9.30am sitting at benches with a small group of children between ages of three and nine.
"The children were surrounding him taking an interest in something he had.
"He remained in the park for two hours, he was talking to one five-year-old boy stroking his arm and hair.
“The child became upset and hit him with a stick before running away.
“He continued to play with the remaining children, engaging them in a game where they would jump on a mattress that was in the park and he would hold them by their hips.”
Hurworth returned to the same park the next morning and was seen talking to a five-year-old boy, grabbing his hand and stroking his hair, the court heard.
He was also seen talking to a five year-old girl and a larger group of children.
Ms Chapman said Hurworth had made one girl “distressed” when he touched her bottom and had been confronted by members of the public, one of whom contacted the police.
In his police interview he agreed he had breached the order, but said parents had been present at the park and he had not touched the children “like that”.
An adult witness told police it was clear the defendant's actions had been distressing the children and she wanted him to stay away from the street and play area.
Hurworth has previous convictions of indecent assault on a male under 16 in 1981 and indecent assault on a female under 16 in 2004.
Mr Francis Edusei, mitigating, said Hurworth had a learning disability which meant he had a low IQ and had been in custody for four months since his arrest.
He was “in need of support long-term”, said Mr Edusei.
Recorder Jamie Hill QC said it was a “troubling case” because of Hurworth’s previous child sex offences.
He sentenced him to 18 months in prison, half of which he will serve on licence.
The Sexual Harm Prevention Order was re-imposed indefinitely.